Everyone is talking about how they either feel Punk disrespected the memory of Paul Bearer or how this may end up being one of the best angles WWE has produced in a long while. And while that would be a great hot button issue to discuss, I want to bring up the Brad Maddox debacle that happened on Raw. This is the third time he has bombed on a live mike in four months, the first time being when he had to explain his actions from the low blow to Ryback at Hell in a Cell. That night wasn’t so bad, as he only lost his place a couple of times that time. The second time was when he called out The Shield to end the February 4th Raw. His inflection was terrible throughout the promo, and he just placed emotion into it at all of the wrong places. Then there was Monday night’s absolutely awful brain-fart promo that Maddox pulled. Couple all of that with the awful job he did on announce last week on Smackdown, and I am wondering who he has backstage keeping him on TV. I have seen some of his matches in FCW and can say he has wrestling talent, and he was great when he worked announce in FCW. But if he keeps bombing on the mike like this, he may be out of a job soon enough. Maddox needs to do something to turn himself around and prove that he deserves to be in the big leagues. What that may be is not up to me, but I hope it happens soon.
Break it down!
Celtic Vipers (Randy Orton and Sheamus) vs. Team Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow) – 8.25
Wait, so we opened Smackdown without an opening video, without a promo bringing out Booker T setting up a match, and with a tag team match? YES! YES! YES! Wait… is that Brad Maddox on announce? NO! NO! NO!
Ok, now that I have exorcised Daniel Bryan from my body, on to business. Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes are on top of the verbal game yet again. Honestly, Rhodes Scholars have some of the best chemistry of any of the tag teams in WWE right now, and their promo tonight further showed why I could see them staying a team, even while pursuing their singles careers. I will say that it was a great way to change up the Disaster Kick by having Cody perform it off the announce table. Cody shouting “I’m done with you!” to Orton was also some subtle brilliance, referencing their feud from a couple of years ago. Sheamus surprised me with the roll up to the top rope. I will say having Sheamus play the damsel for so long also helped to hype up the crowd for Orton’s eventual tag in. However, Orton was just as vanilla as he has normally been the past few weeks, with the lone exception to break up his mundane routine being the T-Bone Suplex.
Winners: Celtic Vipers (pin)
Shield on the Tron – 8.5
Although we have known this was coming down the pike, this was a great setup, and even though Ambrose looked like he spaced for a moment while Rollins was talking, their power in their words was something that very few stars on the roster currently have. I wish Reigns would get more than the few lines he is, as he is very well spoken from what I saw of him in NXT.
The Call “Presser” – 8
I know that we saw this on Monday, but this was lovely fun. Halle seemed to be enjoying it, Otunga was good in his short burst, and Kane always is just right in whatever role WWE throws him in. I just wonder if Halle is a WWE fan!
Fandango Video – 0
This horrible excrement again? NO! NO! NO!
Recap of Lesner – 6
Eh, nothing about this recap stood out to me. We saw it on Raw, and I felt this time could have been better served pushing a Smackdown feud. They could have recapped the Ryback/Henry feud for all I cared, as that would have ramifications on this show.
Backstage Segment – 7
Show sold his case well, but the way he was doing it showed WWE’s hand in picking Ryback. Though it makes sense from a standpoint that Show has attacked Orton and Sheamus both after the last two Shield attack for Orton and Sheamus to not want to work with Show, it feels very shoehorned to have Ryback rejoin this feud. He hasn’t been involved since the Raw following Elimination Chamber, so why suddenly throw him back into the mix when he has a budding program with Henry?
WWE Divas Champion Kaitlyn and Layla vs Tamina and Aksana – 2.5
Aksana had an awful fitting outfit tonight! I counted 5 times that she almost popped out of her top. And, sadly, that was the best part about tonight’s match! Tamina is just horribly reckless in the ring, and needs to back down to NXT for some retraining. Otherwise, everything else in this match was completely forgettable. I said it before, and it bears repeating. If this is how the Divas are going to be booked, then they might as well disband the division.
Backstage Segment – 7.25
While it was a good way to reintroduce the Bellas, I despise the fact that they called Naomi and Cameron hoochie mamas. That is very derogatory and should have never made TV. The backstage brawl brought out the inner Joey Styles in me, and at least it wasn’t a long, drawn out affair. And we saw Jamie Noble!
Raw Rebound – 9.75
Whoever put this video together deserves a promotion! They captured all of the emotion of remembering Paul Bearer and the disrespect Punk had for his memory perfectly. While a lot of people may be against Punk going under Monday night, I think it set everything that followed after the match perfectly.
Tag Team Champion Kane with Daniel Bryan vs Dolph Ziggler with AJ Lee and Big E Langston – 9
I hate the fact that Ziggler is getting his entrance cut. He is in line for a World Heavyweight Title run. He deserves the right to get to have his entrance on TV. Kane’s severely vicious streak sold the anger he felt for Punk stealing the urn extremely well, and helped elevate what was already bound to be a good match to another level. Dolph finds different ways to impress me every week, and this week is no different. I have to say Dolph is the single best seller in the company. He can take a move as simple as a big boot and make it look like it nearly killed him. That long Delayed Suplex by Kane was beautiful! And props to the camera man who was in an excellent position for the Big Boot from Kane on Big E! I will say that Dolph is getting on quite a roll here lately. I hope that this is a sign of things to come. On a side note, Matthews keeps mentioning that Dolph has stated that he will go into Wrestlemania as World Heavyweight Champion. Does anyone know where this was said?
But I also want to say two things here on Big E. First, he really needs to go back to his old singlet and keep it on. When you have pecs that are bigger than most women’s chest, that is gross. When they do a zoom shot on you and you can clearly see a buldge, that is gross. When you singlet is quickly becoming butt floss, maybe you should get a longer singlet. The second thing is I am tired of seeing Big E just hit the 5 Count on someone. It is time for him to be in a match at this level, even if it is just a tag match with Dolph. I have seen his work in NXT, and it was good. Let’s see what he can do on the main roster.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler (pin)
Ricardo Rodriguez and Alberto Del Rio’s Borders Video – 9
Ricardo is awesome at these little video clips! He is a multifaceted talent, and needs to get out on his own at some point soon. He does well as Del Rio’s ring announcer, but I have seen him work the ring, and he is good.
Backstage segment – 9
Swagger is very surprisingly growing well into this character! He held his own against Jericho, and that should say something. I am glad that Jericho came back as a face, as I have always felt like he does his best work as one. The fact that they are slowly letting Swagger talk more without Zeb shows me that Zeb’s work behind the scenes is paying dividends for WWE.
Fandango video – 0
I’ll believe it when it happens. Next.
Fandango vs Kahli’s Language Barrier – 7
I hate to say it, but Fandango is starting to grow on me, if for nothing else but to laugh at this week’s victim to his name. I could really do without all of the videos they show every night, but otherwise I am not sickened by him anymore. I am getting to the point that I really don’t care if he ever debuts. His only appeal is who is going to be embarrassed this week by him. Kahli’s lack of any mastery of the English language is just hilarious! I swear it sounded like he said F***dango at the end! Kahli should only be used for a laugh like this. One issue I have here is what happened to the threat Booker had Teddy Long deliver Fandango last week?
Cena vs. Rock 2 Hype video – 7.5
This was a very nicely done video, but we saw it on Raw, and I feel it, or at least a modified version of it will be shoved down our throats every week.
Backstage Segment – 8.5
While Impact had a weak looking 8-on-1 assault by A’s and 8’s, we get a very strong 3-on-2 assault by The Shield on Orton and Sheamus. The Shield hit hard and fast, and made it look like they fully intended on hurting Orton and Sheamus. This is definitely showed what you should do in an attack.
Backstage Segment – 7
I understand Ryback needed to know what happened to his new partners here, but it just didn’t feel like it was really needed.
Ryback vs. Henry’s Shield Attack – 7
Did anyone really expect this match to go off? Henry utilized perfect heel tactics by abandoning Ryback to the Hounds of Justice. I will say that Ryback getting the upper hand on The Shield seemed very unbelievable, as Show couldn’t do it. Then Henry trying to sneak into the ring to cause another attack on Ryback was great! But then we had the post-attack attack by Henry on Ryback. While the last World Strongest Slam looked ok, the other two looked fairly sloppy. Henry is really starting to grate on my nerves with his attitude since returning. It’s like he doesn’t care about anything except getting himself over.
Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter vs Chris Jericho – 8.5
I will say that it is great to see Swagger going back to slicking back his hair, as the shaggy look just wasn’t working for him. Swagger showed some of his rust in facing an experienced opponent like Jericho, as he failed to adequately sell a Clothesline! Luckily, Jericho is one of the better improvisers in the business. We saw a lot of good technical wrestling in this match, which is something I have to say I have always loved. Cole, on the other hand, showed me why every night I find new ways to hate his ineptitude. “Enzugiri to the back of the head”, please! It hit Swagger in the shoulder, and very obviously did! The counter exchange towards the end of the match was quite impressive, and Zeb’s slight distraction worked perfectly! We don’t see Zeb get involved in matches very much, and when he does, it is a very slight, almost completely natural way to do so. I guess that’s what 40 years in professional wrestling looks like! The Codebreaker counter throw was nasty looking. But I will say that it is nice to see Swagger use the Gutwrench Powerbomb again! I always thought it fit him well, and it gives him a variety of ways he can defeat his opponents.
Overall Wrestling Grade – 8.5 (7 if you include the Divas)
Overall Segment Grade – 7.75
Overall Show Grade – 9
This week’s show really surprised me with how well it was done! I know that the Overall grades may not seem like they make much sense, but we had great wrestling other than the Divas, good segments that furthered the main storylines, and when you put it all together, it made for a superior show. My only major complaint is that we did not have the World Heavyweight Champion on the show this week, other than in the Borders video, but at least they explained that he was “hurt” in an attack on Main Event. I said in my opening that Maddox needed to do something to turn himself around if he ever got another chance to try to prove he had what it takes to be at this level. Tonight, I think he took a step in the right direction. Instead of being a distracting annoyance on announce, he was actually a decent third man, helping to build off of Matthews and Cole. I hope that the chewing he inevitably got from Vince on Monday night lit a fire under him, and that from here on we can see the best of Brad Maddox.
Before I leave you this week, here is the last part on my look back on the career of “Dirty” Dutch Mantell.
Dutch Mantell would return to CWA in November 1985 as a heel, and would quickly go on to beat Phil Hickerson for the CWA International Heavyweight Title. He would also team up with “Superstar” Bill Dundee to capture the AWA Southern Tag Team Titles on November 11th, beating the Fabulous Ones. This would help further fuel the feud that was boiling between Dundee and Jerry Lawler. Dutch Mantell and Bill Dundee would lose the titles to Jerry Lawler and Austin Idol on December 9th. During this time, Dutch was seeing some of the up-and-coming talent that started to trickle through the territories, and help steer some of them through CWA. One of the first teams was the Freedom Fighters, a green as grass young team that would later go on to massive individual success. We now know them better as Sting and The Ultimate Warrior. Dundee and Lawler’s feud would finally boil over on December 30th, 1985, resulting in a Loser Leaves Town match between the two, which Lawler would lose. Bill Dundee would then begin teaming with Buddy Landel to fully take over CWA. Dutch Mantell would lose the CWA International Heavyweight Title to Rick Casey on February 2nd, 1986, which would help cause Dundee and Landel to turn in Dutch. After Dundee and Landel would hold the Saturday morning TV show hostage on March 1st, Commissioner Eddie Marlin had enough and had the Dirty Dutchman bring back Jerry Lawler to take Dundee and Landel down! They would have a series of tag matches that would become so brutal that there was only one way to solve it, a Tag Team Texas Tornado Death Match! Dutch Mantell and Jerry Lawler would win the match against Landel and Dundee, which lasted an hour and a quarter, and set a record for most falls in a single match at 26. This match would also mark the last time that the Mid-South Coliseum would be sold out. The feud would continue on for a while longer after this match, and Dutch would beat Buddy Landel for the NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Title on April 7th, 1986. Dutch would lose the Title to Rip Rodgers on May 19th, and would begin a mini feud with him. Dutch would win back Title on June 16th, thus closing out their feud and marking his 13th reign with it. Dutch, though, would have an argument with management and leave CWA in July of 1986 and leave the territory.
He would return to Puerto Rico and compete there, as well as compete in Southeastern Championship Wrestling. Dutch would go on to win the NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Title from Adrian Street on April 17th, 1987, and would hold the title until November 23rd, where he would lose it to Danny Davis. During this reign, SECW’s Continental Heavyweight Champion, Wendell Cooley, would announce his retirement and vacate the Title. Dutch would win the tournament that would follow on October 30, 1987, making him the holder of both of SECW’s top Titles. Dutch would hold on to the Continental Heavyweight Title until the promotion closed in early 1988. Dutch would continue to work in Puerto Rico, where he would unfortunately become a witness to the aftermath of one of professional wrestling’s first travesties, the stabbing death of Bruiser Brody.
Dutch would return to CWA as a booker and wrestler in August of 1988, working with them as they began to merge with the AWA and World Class Championship Wrestling. It was during this time that Dutch would take a big man under his wing that was going by the Master of Pain and help him learn more of the ins and outs of the business. Dutch would win the newly formed USWA Unified Heavyweight Title from Jerry Lawler on January 10th, 1989, only to lose it a few days later back to Lawler. He would then be awarded the CWA Heavyweight Title when Wendell Cooley would leave the promotion. Dutch would then begin a feud with Jeff Jarrett that would culminate in a Best 2 Out of 3 Falls match on March 20th, 1989, with Jarrett winning the Title. Dutch would continue to face Jarrett in tag matches for a couple of months, but then would start teaming with the Master of Pain against Jerry Lawler. However, things weren’t going the way the Master of Pain wanted, and he turned on Dutch! They would have a brutal feud with a number of No DQ matches. The Master of Pain would beat Dutch Mantell on August 7th in a Loser Leaves Town match. Over the next couple of weeks Dutch’s “cousin”, Texas Dirt, would come into USWA and get his revenge on the Master of Pain, ending up with the Master of Pain losing a Loser Leaves Town match on August 28th. Texas Dirt would then win the CWA Heavyweight Title from Black Bart in a Title vs. Mask match on September 4th. Black Bart would win back the title the next week, but would lose it back to Texas Dirt the following week. Texas Dirt would try to give the CWA Heavyweight Title to Dutch Mantell, but couldn’t as he had to unmask. Dutch would continue to help the Master of Pain behind the scenes, even going as far as to help him get his first big shot in WCW, where he would debut as “Mean” Mark Callous. He would not stay in WCW long, but would catch the eye of Vince McMahon and become the legend we now know as The Undertaker. But The Undertaker wouldn’t be the only future legend that Dutch would influence during this time. A young man by the name of Steve Williams was just starting his career, but had the issue of having the name that was in use by “Dr Death” Steve Williams. Dutch would pitch a variety of names to him, such as Stevie Rage and William Stevenson III, but the one that stuck was Steve Austin. Dutch would teach Austin on things like putting on a quality match, and also taught him to sit and watch every match on a card to improve himself.
Dutch would continue to work for USWA as a booker until WCW would call for him to come in as an announcer on their show WCW Worldwide, where he would provide an excellent dynamic with Tony Schiavone. Tony would do the play-by-play work and Dutch would be the heel color commentator. Dutch would later get tapped to be part of the infamously horrid Desperados Stable, which failed before it even got going, because Stan Hansen would become insulted by the storyline. Dutch would leave WCW and go to Jim Cornette’s Smokey Mountain Wrestling as a color commentator and occasional wrestler with the Stud Stable. He would return to booking for USWA, where he would meet up with another future star going by the name Doomsday at that time. Dutch would see in this young man what he saw in Mark Calaway a couple of years earlier, a big man with a great ability in the ring. Dutch would take Doomsday with him when he returned to WWC in 1994. Dutch would capture the WWC Universal Heavyweight Title from Ray Gonzalez on June 22nd, 1994, and would feud with Carlos Colon over the Title until he lost it on August 6th. Dutch and Doomsday would return to USWA and continue wrestling there until WWE would call him up to be a manager. Dutch and Jerry Lawler would use their connection in WWE to get Doomsday a tryout, where he would go on to become Dr Isaac Yankem, better known now as Kane.
Dutch would be repackaged as Uncle Zebekiah and manage the Blu Brothers, who were best known as their later incarnation in WWE as 8-Ball and Skull or as the Bruise Brothers in USWA and ECW. They would be in the Tag Team division for about half a year before they would get tired of the way they were being handled in WWE and quit. Dutch would stay on, wrestling the occasional match, until his next protégé came along, Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw. Dutch was asked to manage him, and during the course of a single match, Bradshaw impressed Vince with his power and speed so much that he was offered a contract immediately after the match. Zebekiah would drop the “Uncle” from his name and be Bradshaw’s manager and occasional tag team partner. Dutch would manage Bradshaw for the better part of 1996, helping teach him the finer points of backstage workings.
Dutch would then return to USWA and stay with them until they folded in November of 1997. Dutch was the final USWA Heavyweight Champion, having won it from Jerry Lawler. Dutch would then return to WWC in Puerto Rico as a booker, but after a few months would leave and join their rival promotion, IWA. Dutch would become the entire creative department of the company, writing 4 hours of TV every week for them for 5 years, setting yet another record. And on top of that, the shows would regularly draw a 12-15 rating, with his best one being an 18.1 that had a 55% market share! That means that over half of Puerto Rico was watching IWA! He would also win has last title in Puerto Rico, winning the WWC World Tag Team Titles on April 8th, 2000, with Bouncer Bruno, and would hold them for three weeks before losing them to Thunder and Lightning. Dutch would continue to work for IWA until 2003. He would then go to TNA as a booker and creative team member, where he would discover one more big man with something special, Chris Parks. Dutch would create the Abyss character and bring him into TNA where we all know the devastation he would leave. Dutch was also very instrumental in creating the Knockouts Division and signing Awesome Kong, Alissa Flash, and many of the other Knockouts. In July of 2009, Dutch would leave the company due to creative differences with Dixie Carter, most notably Dixie trying to bring in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Dutch would return to IWA as a booker and wrestle the occasional match. He also would pen two books, The World According To Dutch and Tales From A Dirt Road, both of which I can highly recommend. He then would make his return to WWE in 2013 as Jack Swagger’s manager Zeb Colter, where he is now.
I really hope that you have enjoyed this look into the career of Dutch Mantel. I grew up watching him on Memphis’ WMC Channel 5 Wrestling, and will always hold a special spot in my heart for the Dirty Dutchman. Thank you for reading, and I will see you next week for yet another Breakdown!